Technology for Untapped Talent (TUT) held its End-of-Year-event on Saturday, October 20, 2012 in the Campus Center Ballroom. TUT is a program within the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa College of Education’s Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG) that provides vocational training in high-tech manufacturing to individuals with disabilities. Thirteen participants, who were recognized for their completion of the TUT program, were joined by friends and family for the special ceremony. Guest speaker, Susan Foard, the assistant administrator of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Services for the Blind, and CRDG Director Kathleen Berg delivered congratulations and inspirational messages.

The hands-on TUT curriculum included a final lesson in which the students designed, fabricated, and assembled an original project. These impressive displays were showcased at the event and included beautiful clocks, a finely-crafted jewelry box, a highly-detailed and accurate sundial, a wooden carved lantern, and an ukulele. For some of the parents, supporters, and counselors, it was their first glimpse at what the TUT students are capable of.

After more than a year of intensive training, the TUT participants gained skills for using computer-aided design (CAD) software, computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software, and computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines, and 3D (three-dimensional) printers. These emerging technologies are redefining the necessary skillset for employees in companies that want to remain competitive in the design and manufacture of products such as furniture, musical instruments, jewelry, signs, awards, souvenirs, and more.

Directed by Dr. Neil Scott, this unprecedented vocational training program provides the opportunity for individuals with physical disabilities, such as visual impairment, deafness, hearing difficulties, autism, and Asperger’s syndrome, to acquire gainful employment with serious growth potential in the high tech design and manufacturing marketplace.

“Empowering individuals with disabilities to participate fully in developing the 21st-century workforce needed to expand Hawai‘i’s capacity for manufacturing innovative, high quality products for local and export markets will pave the way to a more economically sound and sustainable Hawai‘i,” Scott said.

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